Some people are surprised to find out that most personal injury cases don’t go to trial or include a judge or jury. Instead, many cases end when the two sides agreed to a settlement. A settlement is simply an agreement between the two sides of a lawsuit that ends the lawsuit in the court system. Most settlements end when the person who filed the lawsuit agrees to drop the case and the person who was being sued agrees to pay a certain amount of money.
Prior to the actual settlement agreement, the two sides will engage in negotiations. During these negotiations both sides will state their cases, make claims, respond to the claims the other side makes, and make offers for settlement. Depending on the circumstances, the offers involved, and the willingness of each side to enter into an agreement, this settlement negotiation process can proceed very quickly, or drag on for a long time.
The attorney working for the person who filed the lawsuit will negotiate with the other side’s attorney and try to come to a settlement both sides can agree to.
Personal Injury Case: Demand Letters
When personal injury attorneys take on a new client, they will first investigate the case to determine what happened. This investigation might take a few days, a few weeks, or even longer, but the end goal of the investigation is usually the sending of a demand letter.
A demand letter is simply a letter that your attorney sends to the other party(s) involved in your case. The letter will claim that you suffered injuries as a result of the other person’s negligence or actions, and that you believe you have a case that is worth a specific dollar amount.
So, a demand letter is really the first settlement offer that your attorney will make. If the other side agrees with the terms of the demand letter, you will enter into a settlement agreement. However as you will learn, most cases do not end simply with a demand letter.
Personal Injury Case: Negotiating With Adjusters
While a small number of cases get resolved simply by sending a demand letter, most cases do not. People who get sued are often covered by insurance. When your lawyer sends a demand letter, he or she will usually send it to an insurance company who will assign a claims adjuster to handle the case.
The claims adjuster is responsible for evaluating the case and determining what a fair settlement offer will be from the perspective of the insurance company. The adjuster will usually offer your attorney a settlement that is much lower than that your attorney made in the original demand letter.
This process might repeat itself several times, with your attorney proposing a settlement offer, the other side coming back with a counter proposal, and so on.
The key issue to remember is that the settlement process is simply that; a process. It can take a lot of time, and not all settlement negotiations end successfully. If settlement talks don’t reach a mutual agreeable outcome, you have to take your case to trial.
If you have been injured and believe you may be entitled to a settlement, the best thing to do is to contact a personal injury attorney in Phoenix to discuss your specific situation. If you have a case and potential to receive monetary compensation, an attorney will be able to explain the legal process, his/her expectation of compensation and any other information that is critical to your winning outcome.